Meet a Cohabs member: Héléna, 24, French, living in Paris

By Jiselle Henderkott Published 01/03/2023

The idea for the “Meet a Member” series is to give you a behind-the-scenes look at the Cohabs Community and to get a better sense of what Cohabs is all about. 

So, are you curious to learn more about one of our members? Meet Héléna, a French girl who is living at Cohab’s newest house, Buttes Bergeyre 59, in the 19th arrondissement of Paris.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m Héléna, and I’m 24 years old. I’m originally from Metz, but I’m currently living in Paris. I’ve been a part of the Cohabs family now for a few years.  I also lived with Cohabs in Brussels for 15 months in 2020. I’m currently working at my first job in Paris! I work as a project manager.

I completed civil engineering school in Lille, in the north of France. Then I did a long internship in Brussels, where I first discovered Cohabs. I decided to continue my studies back in France, and I did another master’s degree in business to complement a civil engineering degree. Now, I currently work on selling and installing marble in luxury boutiques and restaurants.

 How did you first hear about Cohabs?

I was actually doing an internship in Brussels. I was there for a year, and I really liked it. It was during Covid, in 2020, and I was looking for a simple apartment to live in. The only thing was, I didn’t know anyone in Brussels, and due to Covid, everything was closed: restaurants, bars, most things. I posted on a Facebook group to see if there was some other solution. Then someone from Cohabs, I believe it was Laure, responded back to me and gave me some great information. 

She showed me the website, and then I did a quick meeting with the team. It felt like a match. Before living with Cohabs, I didn’t know anything about co-living. This was my first time sharing a space with so many other people. I was a bit scared at the beginning because you have to meet new people. It’s also a new city where you have to speak English. It was a lot of new challenges, but I’m very happy I did it.

What made Cohabs stand out?

The first thing I noticed was all the different people with different backgrounds. I remember the first day I arrived, and I was not good at English. It was so funny to ask simple questions. For example, I didn’t know the word “pot” when making pasta. However, my English improved while living in the Cohabs house, because we were speaking English together every day. We were also all working from home because it was during Covid. We would work together in the kitchen and in the shared office space. I really enjoyed it. When you are speaking English every day with people from different countries, you take the time to develop your language skills.

Why did you decide to try coliving?

I never had the experience of living with roommates before. When I did my studies, I always just lived by myself, so it was my first experience living with other people. When I first arrived in Brussels, I didn’t know anyone in the city. I wanted to find new people to meet. I knew I would be working from home, so it would have been complicated getting to know my co-workers.

I didn’t really think about it in the first place, but I just realized that living in a Cohabs house was one of the best choices of my life. That’s why I chose to do it again in Paris! When I first moved to Paris, I decided that I wanted have my own apartment. I wanted to do it alone: the decorations and everything. However, I felt like something was missing. I was missing out on making memories with other people and just sharing everything! I missed how, for example, when you come back from work, there are people there to greet you. It feels like the house is alive. That’s the most important aspect for me.

What has been the best thing about living at Cohabs?

It’s definitely been the long-lasting friendships I made in the house. We were 16 in the house in Brussels. For at least ten months, there was no turnover. We really had the time to create strong relationships between us. For example, last summer I went on vacation in Spain with people I met in the house. I also went to London last Christmas to visit my friends. We still try to see each other, even if we are not living in the same country anymore.

 I also really enjoyed making memories and celebrating together. Almost every Saturday we used to do a nationality dinner. Every Saturday, someone with a different nationality would prepare and cook a dinner from their country. We would all spend Saturday afternoon cooking together. Then, we would get dressed up to take beautiful pictures. We would put a lot of love into the decorations: setting the table and putting out flowers. We all really loved creating a beautiful environment. I was very surprised by this, because when I was speaking with my other friends, they would say, “Oh, but you live with 15 people. That’s so many!” Yeah, it should be messy, but everyone is very respectful toward privacy and cleaning up after themselves. I was so surprised.

Can you take us through a day in your life?

Usually, I wake up around seven, and I take a shower in my room. I put on some makeup, get dressed, and clean my room before I go to the kitchen for breakfast. Sometimes I have breakfast alone and sometimes with other people. It just depends on the day. We have a beautiful kitchen with an amazing view. Because we are located on a hill, we have a view of the Eiffel Tower, the Sacre Coeur, and La Défense.

 I work a bit and then I take the metro to go to Le Marais, which is in the 3rd arrondissement of Paris. I work with my colleagues for a little bit, and then we usually have lunch around 1pm. If it’s nice and sunny out, we like to have lunch in little parks in the Marais. It’s a very cute neighborhood. When I leave for work around 7pm, I try to go back to the house and work out in the gym room (if I’m feeling motivated!) 

Recently, a housemate and I had a Valentine’s Day dinner with quiche lorraine, because I’m from the Lorraine region. We put out some candles and garland decorations with little hearts. By the end of it, everyone came down and wanted to share the heart-shaped chocolate cakes we got from Picard! It was so much fun. We usually end the night playing Uno together or watching a movie. 

On the weekends, we like to go to second-hand vintage shops like La Frange à l’Envers and cook brunch together. This past weekend, we bought some fresh fruit and eggs from the Marché Secrétan, which is really close to our house. Then, we will do the hammam, which we are really lucky to have in the house.

What are some of your favorite addresses in Paris?

There is a restaurant which is really good. It’s called Chez Janou. We always eat chocolate mousse there. Then, I also like to go to La Papoterie. We go there to paint on ceramics. I love painting and drawing. I’m really creative. You can choose your mold and paint on it. You can make a plate, a glass or a vase. Another place that I really love is the Buttes-Chaumont Park which is really close to the house. It was my first time there two weeks ago when I first arrived at the house. I’ve never been there before. There is an amazing view from the top. You just don’t feel like you are in Paris. There is even a waterfall and a cave. My housemates and I decided that we will go back and picnic in the spring and summer.

I also recommend visiting the Marais, which is my favorite neighborhood in Paris. I know it very well, because I work there every day of the week. The buildings are so cute. There are many parks where you can go and listen to the birds. It’s very chill. You feel at ease there. The food in this neighborhood is also very good. Le Marché des Enfants Rouges has delicious food. We always go there for lunch. I also love the Shakespeare and Company bookstore. It’s right by Notre Dame, and there is a piano and a cat who is very sweet.

What advice would you give someone wanting to move to Paris?

First of all, it’s a city where there is always something to do. You can find whatever you like here: whatever your personality is, whatever you like to do in your free time. You can find it here. You can go for amazing strolls and see the beautiful Haussmannian architecture. You can find gorgeous houses in the 19th arrondissement, with streets that look like a village. You have everything you could ever need here. There is something for everyone! The city that never sleeps is actually Paris! It’s a very beautiful city.

Any last-minute thoughts?

If you are looking to share moments and create memories, Cohabs is the place. With coliving, you can improve your language skills, and I think it’s the best way to learn other languages. I love living with people of different nationalities because there is so much to learn. When I was looking to try co-living again, I looked at other co-living companies, but I find that Cohabs offers something more. The houses are inside Paris, which is really nice to be so close to the center. You have a lot of space in the houses too.

The Cohabs team also puts a lot of effort into the decorations in every house. You can feel that there is something special here. There is a cohesive ambiance in all of their houses. The services are also really good. They put together a lot of events for us to get to know each other. For example, we have brunch every Sunday. Last Sunday, they delivered Italian food to let us cook together for our welcome dinner. They help us to create a community and to feel welcomed. That is super positive and something that I really love!

About the author Bonjour! I'm Jiselle, an American ex-pat living in Paris. When not a freelance writer, I'm also an actress, singer, and dancer.